FKNK VP Lino Far­ru­gia re­fuses to give in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing re­vo­ca­tion of mem­ber­ships

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Ju­lian Bon­nici

“I de­cide if I give you the in­for­ma­tion you are re­quest­ing,” FKNK Vice-Pres­i­dent Lino Far­ru­gia said when asked by The Malta Independent re­gard­ing the num­ber of mem­ber­ships that have been re­voked from hun­ters who en­gage in il­le­gal hunt­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. Mr Far­ru­gia said that he, “will give [the in­for­ma­tion] to you if I want to”.

This news­room asked FKNK af­ter in 2015’s au­tumn hunt­ing sea­son alone there had been 131 of­fences ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the Wild Birds Reg­u­la­tion Unit; 102 of which have in­volved il­le­gal trap­ping ac­tiv­i­ties, two hav­ing in­volved the trap­ping of pro­tected birds, one be­ing the hunt­ing of pro­tected birds, five be­ing the pos­ses­sion of pro­tected birds. When con­tacted about the vol­ume of of­fences, Mr Far­ru­gia in­sisted that a ma­jor­ity of them have been “petty” crimes.

This runs con­trary to the FKNK’s pre-ref­er­en­dum state­ment given to the Com­mit­tee Against Bird Slaugh­ter in which the or­gan­i­sa­tion pub­li­cally con­demned “any breaches of hunt­ing and trap­ping reg­u­la­tions” stress­ing that “it will in­crease its pres­sure to ful­fil its pol­icy of zero tol­er­ance with who­ever may be ap­pre­hended and found guilty by the Court of Law.”

A FKNK state­ment on 16 Septem­ber of this year reads that “With­out FKNK mem­ber­ship a trap­ping li­cence is not pos­si­ble." In the same state­ment the FKNK echoed the sen­ti­ment that the or­gan­i­sa­tion will “im­me­di­ately re­voke the mem­ber­ship of any FKNK trap­per mem­ber who may be found guilty in court of il­le­gal trap­ping ac­tiv­i­ties”.

How­ever when asked about yes­ter­day’s case against Sunny Camil­leri who ad­mit­ted to be­ing guilty of trap­ping a pro­tected species, Lino Far­ru­gia said that he “did not know” of the judge­ment and he will see which course of ac­tion to take.

The state­ment fol­lowed con­cerns af­ter at least 23 pro­tected birds had been shot in this year’s au­tumn sea­son. Ac­cord­ing to govern­ment state­ments fol­low­ing these events, it is the Or­nis Com­mit­tee, whose chair­man is Prof. Mark An­thony Fal­zon, which has the power to sus­pend the hunt­ing sea­son, de­spite the fact that Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat has sus­pended the hunt­ing sea­son twice with­out a for­mal rec­om­men­da­tion by the Or­nis Com­mit­tee. Prof. Fal­zon has since avoided any at­tempts this news­pa­per has made to con­tact him for a com­ment on the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion.

This news­room also con­tacted BirdLife CEO Mark Sul­tana where he also ex­pressed con­cern that the or­gan­i­sa­tion does not stick to its sup­posed zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy.

Mr Sul­tana also spoke of the lack of pres­ence of the Ad­min­is­tra­tive Law En­force­ment in Gozo. ALE is the unit that mon­i­tors hunt­ing and trap­ping in Malta, how­ever ac­cord­ing to Mr Sul­tana it ap­pears that in Gozo the lo­cal po­lice force is con­duct­ing these du­ties, act­ing as the en­forcers and in­ves­ti­ga­tors of the leg­is­la­tion.

He stressed that he was not crit­i­cis­ing the work of or­di­nary po­lice­men, in­stead he was ques­tion­ing why the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties, who have the proper ex­pe­ri­ence in deal­ing with these in­ves­ti­ga­tions were not able to act on the is­land.

This he be­lieves will lead to a num­ber of pro­ce­du­ral er­rors dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tions and would of­ten lead to a lack of ev­i­dence as was seen in yes­ter­day morn­ing’s ac­quit­tal of Alex De­brin­cat and Derek Fran­cis Xuereb.

The lack of pres­ence from the ALE in Gozo is a long­stand­ing is­sue with CABS Wildlife Crime Of­fi­cer Fiona Bur­rows say­ing in 2015 that “that many Mal­tese trap­pers go to Gozo to trap, since there is no ALE there.”

Mr Sul­tana also spoke of the govern­ment’s in­abil­ity to act on the field of taxi­dermy. He be­lieves re­moval of crim­i­nal pro­ce­dures against the craft equates to the pro­mo­tion of the killing and stuff­ing of birds and an­i­mals.

This echoes sen­ti­ments showed in Jan­uary of this year when Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary Rod­er­ick Galdes made an ap­pear­ance at a taxi­dermy event be­sides David Fal­zon and Mark Buha­giar, two of­fi­cials of the Malta Taxi­dermy Foun­da­tion who were found guilty in court for be­ing in pos­ses­sion of pro­tected birds.

The event which was hosted by FKNK fea­tured fal­con dis­plays, and a taxi­dermy com­pe­ti­tion for the mount­ing of tur­tle dove and quail – the two bird species which can be hunted in Malta’s spring hunt­ing sea­son. At the time a BirdLife state­ment had read: “It is de­plorable that the per­son given the re­mit to safe­guard an­i­mal rights has gone so far as to pro­mote taxi­dermy, an act con­sid­ered de­spi­ca­ble through­out the world.”

Many Mal­tese trap­pers go to Gozo to trap, since there is no ALE there

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